Indian minister defends decision to fly gang rape victim to Singapore

NEW DELHI - India's external Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, responding to a growing controversy over the move to send the 23-year-old gang rape victim to Singapore for treatment, said it was a "purely a medical decision".


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Read more about the controversy surrounding the move to transfer the rape victim:

AFP - The decision to fly her out of the country by air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet on Wednesday and the government has promised to pay all her medical bills.

Some Indian medics had criticised the decision to move her.

But Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government’s only concern was to ensure the victim received “the best treatment possible”.

Newspapers suggested the authorities, who have struggled to contain nationwide protests over the attack, were keen to have her transferred out of the country.

An unnamed doctor who was part of a team of experts consulted about the transfer told The Hindu newspaper they had only been asked whether it was safe to move her and not whether it was the best course of action.

“The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her... She was being given the best possible care,” the doctor was quoted as saying.

Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told the paper the transfer made little sense.

“I just can’t understand why a critically ill patient with infection in blood and body, high grade fever and on the ventilator is being transferred,” he said.

“It will take weeks in this case to even look into the possibility of an intestinal transplant so why hurry and take the patient out from a facility which works so well. It seems more of a political move.”

Singh has ordered an official inquiry into the gang-rape and new laws to protect women as well as stiffer penalties for the worst sex crimes.

The government has announced plans to post the photos, names and addresses of convicted rapists on official websites to publicly shame them. The campaign will begin in Delhi, which has been dubbed India’s “rape capital”.

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